�20m cutbacks could lead to closure of libraries and theatre in Barking and Dagenham

Taxpayers have been giving their views on a �20million programme of cuts that could lead to library closures, the transfer of an adult college and the demise of The Broadway Theatre.

Residents were given the chance to share their opinions on proposals made by Barking and Dagenham Council to cut its budget next year at two public meetings last Thursday and Friday.

At Friday’s meeting deputy council leader, Cllr Rocky Gill, confirmed the local authority was considering moving at least part of Barking and Dagenham Adult College in Fanshawe Crescent, Dagenham.

Students have received letters advising them the college could make way for an infant school to tackle the shortage of school places.

Student Lorraine Marsh, of Osbourne Square, Dagenham, said she was worried about the college’s potential move. The 47-year-old said: “We’re very worried. It was a bit of a shock when we learnt what was happening.

“The teachers do a very good job. There’s a marvellous team. They’re worried for the future, not only for the pupils but also for their job safety.”

Cllr Gill said the council was committed to keeping adult college provision, perhaps at another location, but stressed the council faced difficult choices.

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He said: “We are losing 28 per cent of our budget – something like �50million. That’s the circumstances we are in at the moment.”

At the meeting Conservative politician and former councillor Terry Justice urged the council to slash the number of councillors by up to two thirds in a bid to save taxpayers more than �1million over four years.

People at the meeting, held at Becontree Heath Leisure Centre, also voiced fears over service provision at day centres for the disabled while student Paul Larkin, 25, indicated cuts to children’s services could lead to new riots in the capital.

One of the cuts being considered is the withdrawal of the grant awarded to The Broadway Theatre.

Celia Haynes, 67, who volunteers there, said: “The cuts are going to be absolutely devastating and The Broadway will go. It is awful any cuts have to be made. It is hard all round.”